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Help a newbie! Question on power supply for video cards

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
June 22, 2006 8:13:32 PM

I'm a casual gamer (Morrowind with mods may be the most graphically demanding) on a Del 4550 P4 1.8 ghz, 512 of RAM and a dinosaur video card GeForce4 MX 420. I'm considerring upgrading my card. Dell tells me the mother board wil support AGP 4x, with a max video memory of 128 meg. My power supply is 250 watts.
The cards that seem compatible and that are well rated (GeForce 6600 GT, 6800, Radeon 9800) are listed as requiring a power source of 300 or more.

Any suggestions? Will a card work if the power supply is not up to it, or will the fan not run right? I'm currently using a used GeGorce FX 5200, on loan from the guy at the neighborhod computer shop.

Thanks in advance.
June 22, 2006 8:32:18 PM

Please list ALL your specs including the number of hdd's and optical drives. Also include the model and manufacturer of the PSU, not all psu's were created equal.
June 22, 2006 8:38:38 PM

Thanks for the fast reply, Waylander. I'll post the specs when I get home to my PC (at work now!).
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June 22, 2006 8:44:02 PM

How much can you spend.

A plain jane 6600 (not an LE version) would be fine. You could spend more on a 6600GT but if Morrowind (not Oblivion) is all you play regular 6600 should work nicely. On the less expensive end (about $50) you could go with a Radeon 9550 or 9600XT.

His Dell PSU rating is probably it's sustainable output and not it's MAX output. If they're telling him he can put a 9800 in it he might even be able to get away with an X800GTO, but that would be quite a bit of overkill.
June 22, 2006 9:08:58 PM

Once again, I advocate the ebay $40 9700 PRO deal. :) 
June 23, 2006 1:31:09 AM

I'm embarassed to say, I'm not sure how to tell what my PSU is. It came with the Dell system.
Hard drive is Maxtor 4ro8olo 80 gB, optical drives dual HL-DT-ST CD-RW GCE-8400-B, and Liteon DVD-ROM LTD163 (this straight from dvice manager).

Does this help?

Does the 9700 Pro have a cooling fan/need separate power supply?

Edit: The 9700 also suggests a 300 watt power supply. Does it draw less power?
June 23, 2006 2:46:00 PM

Dell PSUs are underrated. Your 250 should easily handle cards that require 300w PSUs.
June 26, 2006 2:06:03 PM

I can get a SAPPHIRE 100561L Radeon 9600PRO 128MB from New Egg new for $33 after rebate. It requires 300 Watts, but judging from the above posts, it should run in my system. Any opinions?

I couldn't find the $40 9700 on ebay mentioned above.

Thanks all for the input.
June 26, 2006 5:25:57 PM

That card would be fine, but I noticed it is on auto-notify at Newegg so you may have to wait for stock to arrive (if ever). This 9600PRO is about $10 more but has more slightly faster memory.

Search for 9700 Pro on eBay, not 9700Pro. I got more results that way. Whether or not they stay below the $40.00 mark is a different story but there were a few good candidates.
June 26, 2006 6:40:55 PM

Thanks Anoobis. I hadn't noticed the auto-notify. Unfortunately, the other 9600Pro is 256 meg which Dell tells me will not run on my motherboard.
June 26, 2006 7:44:54 PM

Dell is full of sh!t.

Edit: Most likely, when Dell wrote up the specs for your system a 256Mb version of the 9600Pro may not have been available. Since it's an older machine, I doubt Dell would or has taken the time to update those specs as newer cards became available.

Please, anyone, correct me if I'm wrong but I seriously doubt a 256Mb version of a 9600 Pro wouldn't work if a 128 Mb version will.
June 26, 2006 8:52:40 PM

I'm with Anoobis on this one. Should handle it no prob.
June 26, 2006 9:16:45 PM

Nice new card Cleeve.
June 29, 2006 1:27:09 AM

So what happens if a video card is underpowered? I tried a used 9800 128 meg from the local shop and my display was all messed up, all streaked and unreadable.
June 29, 2006 2:53:20 AM

Maybe your monitor cannot take high resolutions

restart computer in safe mode and lower the resolution to 800x600.

June 29, 2006 2:58:19 PM

Thanks margag_.
I don't think that's it, as I've set the resolution high with my old 64 meg videocard and everything looks fine (small, but fine).
June 29, 2006 6:55:26 PM

Did you uninstall the GeForce drivers BEFORE putting the Radeon in the machine?
June 30, 2006 8:30:44 PM

No, I didn't. At the risk of sounding ignorant, how do I do that? Also, if it doesn't work, how do I load them back when I reinstall the old card?
July 5, 2006 5:34:58 PM

July 5, 2006 6:10:14 PM

Google 'driver cleaner' and find a program for removing old video drivers. I'll do a quick search and post one here when I find it.

ADDED: Simple as

Also, forget about the 'recommended' power supply size. That is very ambigous and its sole purpose is a 'cover your arse' attempt by the card manufacturers because there is no way to know how much stuff people have in their machines, so they just throw out a number [300W in this case] to account for what most people might have installed and give them plenty of room for error. It's a meaningless number and relates in no way to the power required for the card.
July 6, 2006 2:01:17 PM

Thanks Pain!

Again, pardon my noobitude, but if I remove the driver for the old card and the new card won't run, what can I do?

When I tried the GeGorce FX 5200, windows just recognized it and started the install wizard.
July 6, 2006 2:39:30 PM

If you need to bo back to the old card, go to and get the latest geforce video driver.
July 6, 2006 4:02:34 PM

Sorry, I've been on vacation.
July 6, 2006 5:17:39 PM

Welcome back Anoobis.

Pain, when I tried the 9800, I could barely see anything on my monitor. I'm afraid of removing the drivers for the old Nvidia and then not being able to see well enough to get it working again. Is this unfounded?

Thank you all for your patience with me.
July 6, 2006 5:33:29 PM

Yes, it's unfounded. If you remove the drivers for the old card, when you put it back in windows will either load their default drivers for that card, OR, they will load a default vga driver. Either way, you will [should] be able to see fine so you can reload the appropriate nvidia driver.
July 6, 2006 6:05:49 PM

If you want to get your video card please see if it has a Molex connector,if it has one it means that your video card needs more power to run in good parameters ,if it dosen.t have a Molex connector then you are safe with your 200W power supply
July 6, 2006 6:06:42 PM

If you want to get your video card please see if it has a Molex connector,if it has one it means that your video card needs more power to run in good parameters ,if it dosen.t have a Molex connector then you are safe with your 200W power supply